Via the Patrick Henry Society:
Readers of PHS lately have seen a lot of articles about the ongoing gun rights fight here in WA. You might think it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t live here in the Pacific Northwest. You would be so very wrong; what we are fighting here in our state is coming to yours. For some of you, it’s already there. You might think that us fighting over taking open carry firearms into the state legislature viewing galleries is a stupid argument and one that you don’t care about. Again, you’d be wrong. If you’re an American who values freedom, you should care very much about what’s going on here in Washington…regardless of where you live.
One of the questions we keep hearing here about the ban on open carry in the legislative galleries is “What’s the big deal? So you can’t bring your rifle into the gallery. Why do you even NEED to?” Even those who claim to support the Second Amendment say these things; almost as if we need to ensure that the exercise of our rights is only done 1) in areas where no one can possibly see and be afraid of us, and 2) if we demonstrate that we have a “need” to exercise it there, at that time and in that fashion.
The problem with this school of thought is inherent, and shows a basic misunderstanding of what rights are. Rights can be exercised at any time, for any reason, without first having to prove a “need” or justification for their exercise. In fact, as I’ve discussed here before, the second that you allow the infringement of your rights because of someone else’s fear or offense, you’ve handed them the key to take ALL of your rights.
In the case of the State House and Senate, they are “reinterpreting” existing rules about ‘props’, such as signs, buttons, or other things generally used in a demonstration being banned from the gallery. They have decided that firearms are now props. Make no mistake—firearms are not props.
One person, while explaining to me why these rules should be enforced, said that “The galleries are a place to observe government, not protest government.”
The Declaration of Independence disagrees:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [emphasis added]
The Washington State Constitution also weighs in with its first sentence:
All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.
At no time in either document does it say that the government grants these rights; they are inherent. It is the government’s job to protect and maintain these rights, not infringe upon them or find creative ways to strip them away. If the government only derives its power from the consent of the governed, in whom all political power resides, and if the entire purpose of government’s existence is to protect and maintain those inherent rights, then the only possible course of action is for the government and its agents to stand down in this matter. In short, they have absolutely no right to tell the citizens they cannot view the proceedings of their own government while armed. They have no power to dictate the exercise of the citizens’ rights…period.
Legislators have decided that openly carried firearms are not arms, protected by the Second Amendment. Instead, they have been reclassified as props—which, by the way, are also protected, just under the First Amendment instead. Seemingly, it does not matter if the firearm in question is loaded or not; according to their rules, a loaded and holstered handgun carried on a man’s hip is still a prop. At what point, pray tell, does the legislature consider it arms, protected by the Second Amendment? This is another example of “Yes, but.” Yes, the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects your right to bear arms, and so does the Washington State Constitution, but… we’ve decided that you can’t exercise that right here in the Capitol while viewing the proceedings of your own government, which exists to protect that exact right you’re trying to exercise.
The real irony comes when you do go ahead and load that firearm. It is still considered a prop, but now you’re also looked at as a threat. It’s supposedly still not protected under the Second Amendment, according to these people, but it’s a threat. They are afraid of you, because you are openly carrying a firearm, I mean, a prop…
Support these folks however you can.
And take a careful read through this “Carrots & Sticks” essay.